The current climate in the United States for immigrants is rather complicated. Immigration authorities are stricter now about enforcing immigration laws and the presence of sanctuary cities. The Attorney General’s Office has launched a campaign called “Know Your Rights” to make things easier. The campaign was designed to assist immigrants in Illinois.
If you are a resident of Illinois, you have constitutional rights. The Attorney General’s Office provides a card to the public that contains a list of rights, which will come in handy if the person is approached by a law enforcement officer or immigration authority.
If you are confronted by police or immigration officials
The Know Your Rights card and other sources provide some useful advice for anyone who is confronted by police. Some things to remember:
- If you are not a U.S. citizen: If you are not a U.S. citizen but have immigration papers, you are responsible to show the immigration officer your papers if they request it.
- If you are arrested: You have the right to remain silent. You are not under any obligation to answer questions. You can inform the immigration or police officer that you choose to remain silent.
- If you are searched: If the police officer asks if they can search you, your possessions, your car or your residence, you have the right to refuse.
If immigration or police officers come to your home:
- If there is no warrant: If immigration or police officers show up at your home without a warrant and wish to come in, you have the right to refuse.
- If the person at the door is unknown to you: If you are uncertain if the officer at your door is an immigration officer, you have the right to inquire about which agency they represent or if they are from ICE.
- You have the right to question: You have the right to ask the officer(s) why they are at your home.
- If there is a language barrier: If there is no common language between you and the officer(s), you have the right to have an interpreter so that you understand what is being said.
- If the officer(s) say they have a warrant: You have the right to ask to see the warrant.
- Signatures on the warrant: If the warrant that the officer(s) present(s) is signed by a judge and is issued by the court, they are allowed to enter your home. If there is no signature, they are not legally allowed to enter and you have the right to tell them not to enter your home.
You have many other rights and responsibilities, which is why it is important that you become well acquainted with the entire list.
Sound advice from an immigration lawyer
If you are having an immigration issue, it may be valuable for you to consult an Illinois immigration lawyer, who can walk you through the process and who can also make sure that your rights are protected. The sound advice of the lawyer can really make your situation easier to navigate and to resolve issues that may have seemed insurmountable before.